Charles Bukowski Takes You on a Very Strange Tour of Hollywood

The world tends to think rather loose­ly about the con­cepts of Los Ange­les, Hol­ly­wood, and the motion pic­ture indus­try, throw­ing them around, run­ning them togeth­er, nam­ing one when they mean anoth­er — still, noth­ing a brac­ing splash of Charles Bukows­ki can’t sort out. Above, the famous Los Ange­les-res­i­dent poet, a fig­ure as sham­bol­i­cal­ly glo­ri­ous and stealth­ily inspir­ing as much of the city itself, gives a brief back-seat tour of Hol­ly­wood. No, he does­n’t take us past the movie stu­dios, nor the Walk of Fame, nor the site of Schwab’s Phar­ma­cy. He stays clos­er to home — his home, the sto­ried bun­ga­low at 5124 De Long­pre Avenue. We see his neigh­bor­hood, his neck of Hol­ly­wood, the north­west­ern dis­trict of vast Los Ange­les that con­tains much less of the capital‑I Indus­try than you’d think, but more of gen­uine (if often grotesque) inter­est.

“That’s a lady for­tune teller there,” Bukows­ki says, ges­tur­ing toward one of the mod­est hous­es around him. “I went in there one time. She read my palm. She said, ‘You’re an alco­holic.’ ‘Real­ly? Do I gam­ble, too?’ ‘Yes, you gam­ble. That’ll be five dol­lars.’ ” The dri­ver con­tin­ues down Hol­ly­wood’s epony­mous boule­vard, pass­ing West­ern Avenue, which gets the poet remem­ber­ing more: “There used to be cement bench­es out front, and all the insane peo­ple would sit there. The street peo­ple. They’d talk to each oth­er all day long.” We pass impor­tant land­marks as well: “There’s the old Sex Shop. Keeps chang­ing hands.” He even points out the wheel­ers and deal­ers liv­ing amid this stretch of bars, broth­els, and burg­er stands: “There’s a woman who’s not a hook­er. There’s a dope deal­er.” Give me Bukowski’s Hol­ly­wood tour over those dou­ble-deck­er bus­es you see around town, their con­duc­tors bark­ing about minor celebri­ty sight­ings, any day. “I’ve been to this liquor store many a time,” Bukows­ki notes. “Many a time.”

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Charles Bukows­ki Tells the Sto­ry of His Worst Hang­over Ever

“Don’t Try”: Charles Bukowski’s Con­cise Phi­los­o­phy of Art and Life

Five Cul­tur­al Tours of Los Ange­les

The Last (Faxed) Poem of Charles Bukows­ki

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

by | Permalink | Comments (4) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (4)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.